How To Grow A Tulsi Plant At Home And What Are Its Benefits?
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In Indian culture, plants, rivers and animals are often revered and there are many stories about them in mythology and religious texts. The tulsi plant for example, is traditionally found planted in the courtyards of Hindu homes across the different states of India. It is usually planted in a special earthen structure known as the Tulsi Vrindavan. 

Many Hindus worship the plant daily. They offer water and light incense sticks and lamps in front of the plant. Devotees believe that this daily prayer ritual brings peace and protection to their homes. They consider the Tulsi plant a symbol of purity that creates a positive spiritual atmosphere and believe that its presence is thought to ward off evil spirits and bring good fortune to the home.

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In Ayurveda, the ancient system of Indian medicine, Tulsi has a special place. It is regarded highly for its various health benefits. It is known to help the body cope with stress and maintain balance. It is used to treat a variety of ailments, such as respiratory issues, digestive disorders, and inflammatory conditions.

The plant contains compounds such as eugenol, camphor, and ursolic acid, which have antibacterial, antiviral, antifungal, and anti-inflammatory properties. As children, many of us were given the crushed leaves of Tusli with a small piece of ginger and a small spoon of honey when suffering from coughs and colds. These days, drinking Tulsi tea is believed to have a calming effect while also boosting one’s immunity. To plant Tulsi at home, here’s what you need to do:

Know The Different Varieties Of Tulsi

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There are several varieties of Tulsi, including the Rama Tulsi, which has bright green leaves and white to purplish flowers; the Krishna Tulsi, with dark green almost black leaves and purple flowers; and the Vana Tulsi, a wild variety, with lighter green leaves and a more lemony aroma.

Select Location

Tulsi thrives in warm, sunny conditions. You will need to choose a spot accordingly. A place that gets at least 6–8 hours of direct sunlight daily would be ideal.

Soil Preparation

Tulsi needs well-drained, fertile soil with a pH level between 6.0 and 7.5. You can mix garden soil with organic compost or well-rotted manure to enhance fertility. Make sure there is good drainage  so that there’s no waterlogging.

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Planting Tulsi

If you are growing Tulsi from seeds, you can start seeds indoors or directly in the garden. Sow the seeds 1/4 inch deep and cover them lightly with soil. Keep the soil moist but make sure there is no waterlogging. Instead of pouring water, it is better to use a spray bottle to keep the surface moist. These seeds typically germinate within 1–2 weeks. Just make sure the plant gets enough sunlight.

If you are growing Tulsi from cuttings, when you choose the cutting, pick a 4-6 inch-long cutting from a healthy Tulsi plant. Remove the lower leaves. Place the cuttings in water until you are ready to plant them, or plant them directly in moist soil. They are likely to develop roots in about 1–2 weeks. Once the roots show, you can move the cuttings to their permanent location.

Caring For Tulsi 

You have to be careful when watering the Tusli. It needs to be watered regularly to keep the soil evenly moist, especially during dry periods but overwatering can lead to the root rotting. If possible, it may be a good idea to apply a layer of mulch around the base of the plant to retain the right amount of moisture and suppress weeds.

Treat the plant with organic fertilisers like compost or vermicompost every 4–6 weeks and avoid chemical fertilisers as they can harm the plant and also reduce Tulsi’s medicinal properties.

Common pests, such as aphids, can be controlled by spraying neem oil or a mild soap solution on the plant. To deal with whiteflies, use yellow sticky traps or insecticidal soaps. You will have to trim the plant regularly so that it grows well. Pinch off the flower buds to extend the plant’s lifespan so that there is more leaf production.

Harvesting Tulsi

You can start harvesting the leaves, usually about 2–3 months after planting. Pick the leaves in the morning for the best flavour and potency. If you allow the plant to flower, harvest the flowers when they are fully open.

How To Use Tulsi Leaves

You can use tulsi leaves in tea, crush them and eat them for some relief from the common cold and the fresh leaves can also be used in cooking the same way that you use herbs like basil. The flavour of Tulsi is quite strong. Tulsi leaves are usually used for herbal remedies because of their anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and immune-boosting properties. Any Ayurvedic practitioner can guide you about how best to use Tusli as per the severity of the condition.

To store the harvested Tulsi leaves, dry the leaves in a shaded, well-ventilated area. You can store the dried leaves in an airtight container away from direct sunlight. You can also freeze the fresh leaves in ice cube trays with a little water.